Travel is awesome. Travel that helps other people is even better. Volunteer travel, or “Voluntourism“, is a great way to learn about another part of the world, learn more about yourself and the discover firsthand the joys of lending a hand. I recently wrote an article for BootsnAll magazine about a volunteer experience I had in Ghana, Africa. Here are a few quick excerpts: Continue reading
A sure way to add excitement to a game of cards is to add the element of consequence. And nothing screams consequence like the prospect of having to shovel a heaping spoonful of garlic, turmeric or curry powder into your mouth. This is Crazy 8 Countdown… for spices. Continue reading
“One person’s trash is another’s treasure.” Weaving old milk bags into sleeping mats for people living in poverty may be one of the coolest examples of this. For several years now, my Step-Mom and Dad have been turning bags of milk into Bags of Awesome. Continue reading
Croquet: The Gentleman’s Game? Not where I come from. Growing up, my brothers and sisters used to play this backyard game in very un-gentlemanly ways. We’d send our opponents’ balls flying into the bush, down our long driveway and into the little creek that ran next to our house. Out-of-bounds was for sissies and sending other players flying was as much a goal as winning. Continue reading
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on my Josh Martin Ink blog.
In an age of iPads, Xboxes and $200 shoes, our sources of entertainment and activity require increasingly sophisticated technology, equipment and infrastructure.
But there’s something to be said for the simpler activities. Activities that nurture creativity, ingenuity and imagination.
In 2005 the cardboard box was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York. The stick made the cut in 2008. “[T]here aren’t any rules or instructions for its use,” said Christopher Bensch, the museum’s curator of collections. “It can be a Wild West horse, a medieval knight’s sword, a boat on a stream or a slingshot with a rubber band.”
In a time when it seems that every toy requires 17 triple-A batteries and every activity requires mountains of gear, it’s nice to see the simple stick and cardboard box be recognized for the limitless entertainment potential that can be unlocked through imagination.
Here are twenty activity ideas for children and adults alike that require one item or less. Feel free to whip out this list if you ever hear a kid whining that they’re bored.
- Tag. I don’t mean tagging your friend puking on a cop on Facebook. I can’t count how many hours I’ve spent chasing friends around the schoolyard yelling “You’re it!”
- Soccer. It’s no surprise soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Whether you’re from Richmond Hill or Rwanda, all you need is a soccer ball and some open space.
- Ultimate Frisbee. Like soccer, but for hippies, the only thing you need for Ultimate is a disc (and perhaps granola).
- Cards. There are hundreds of games you can squeeze out of a single deck of playing cards. Perfect for games night or a rainy day. I come from a huge card-playing family. Euchre, Bugger your Neighbour, Hearts, Pork Chop—we grew up playing them all.
- Hopscotch. Any sidewalk or blacktop can be transformed into a playground with a bit of chalk and imagination.
- Yoga. Although many people go to yoga studios and gyms for this activity, all you really need is a yoga mat and a familiarity with the bizarrely-named poses.
- Red Rover. Oh man. No other game has been responsible for more clotheslines, bruised wrists and sprained fingers than Red Rover. “Red Rover, Red Rover, we call the paramedic over!” A personal favourite.
- Hide and Seek. Another favourite. All you need is a group of people and a good place to hide. Just don’t hide next to a bee hive like I did as a kid. That hurts.
- Charades. Great party game that doesn’t require anything fancy. Giving an easily embarrassed guest something x-rated to act out is always hilarious.
- Arm wrestling/thumb wrestling. Requires nothing but your own bodies. Think this is a lame activity? Watch Sylvester Stallone’s “Over the Top” and think again, buddy.
- Duck Duck Goose. Thrilling suspense. High speed chases. Patting people on the head. This classic has got it all.
- Bloody Knuckles. Taking turns rapping each other’s knuckles until they bleed is admittedly a bit violent and juvenile. But I wanted to mention this because it was a pretty common activity with my schoolmates.
- Touch football. If you remove the contact element from football you remove the need for all the pads, helmets and mouth guards. And the need for medical attention (in most cases).
- What time is it Mr. Wolf? I’m not sure how familiar people are with this game. It involves players calling out “what time is it Mr. Wolf?” to the “wolf” who has her back turned to them. The wolf calls out a time, like “7 o’clock!” and the players take seven steps toward her. This continues until the wolf thinks the players are close enough to catch and the next time they ask “what time is it Mr. Wolf?” she replies “LUNCH TIME!” and chases the squealing players around the playground.
- P.I.G. All you need is any sort of projectile – a ball, Frisbee, hard-boiled egg – that gets tossed back and forth between players. Drop the item and get a letter. When you spell P-I-G, you’re out.
- Rock Paper Scissors. I’m pretty sure more decisions have been made amongst my friends using Rock, Paper, Scissors than by thoughtful discussion.
- Tai Chi. A great activity I’ve wanted to try since my days in Taiwan. All you need is some instruction (and a cool paper fan if you want to look extra awesome).
- Tabletop football. Two players on opposite ends of a table. Object is to move a coin across the table in 4 or less pushes/flicks (downs) and have the coin partially hanging over the edge of the opponent’s end of the table (end zone) without it falling over. Harder than it sounds.
- I went on a camping trip/other car games. Before the days of DVD players in cars, iPods and PSPs, families going on a road trip had to occupy the long hours with driving games like “I went on a camping trip”, “eye spy” and “would you rather”.
- Debating. Probably the easiest way to pass the time of all these ideas is to open a controversial topic up for discussion.
These are just some of the ideas that came to my mind. What are your favourite simple activities?
Badge of Awesome is a collection of cool things to do close to home, around the world and to help others. Share your own awesome experiences by visiting the Submissions Section. Or add your stories, photos and videos to the Badge of Awesome Facebook Page.
Add some awesomeness to your inbox. Subscribe for free to receive email updates of new posts. You’ll also get a free ebook as a thank you for subscribing.
This week’s Buddha Belly Badge of Awesome goes to Jon Webster and his youth group in Streetsville, Ontario. Though perhaps not as violent as the KO Cancer event I told you about last week, as the video below shows, this kick-ass pillow fight from a few years ago still packs a great punch. Continue reading
How useless would you or your friends be in a post-apocalyptic world? The Tribe Game is a great road trip/time-killer game that answers this question.
Are you an SEO expert? Does your résumé brag about things like “results-based management”? Do you excel at Excel? Do you have an in-depth knowledge of branding, social media or database management? If you answered yes to any of these questions, odds are you’re going to be pretty useless in the event of a nuclear, zombie or Mad Maxian-style apocalypse. Continue reading
Man, oh man. You guys added a lot of amazing bucket list items to the contest. Everything from beating the big balls on Wipeout, eating a meal prepared by an Iron Chef, experiencing the Aurora Borealis in Northern Canada, playing the world’s longest golf course in Australia and having coffee with Paulo Coelho.
Brilliant stuff! I’m going to leave the page up so people can continue to add to it.
Congratulations to Tony Wilford!
It the end it was a heated battle between Tony and Kyla, as they raced neck-and-neck to the finish line. In the end though, Tony squeaked out a victory with 130 votes (followed closely by Kyla’s 108). So congratulations to the winner of the Bucket List Contest, Tony Wilford, for this winning entry:
“To see my two girls grow old and see them enjoy their life as much as I have enjoyed mine!”
Congrats Tony! You’ve won the $100 cash prize, signed copies of my books and the coveted Bucket List Badge of Awesome. Your prize pack is on its way!
Runner ups like prizes too!
The next 10 most-liked Bucket List entries have also won signed copies of my books. If you’re on this list, check your emails for details on claiming your prizes. Congratulations!
“In no particular order:
- Build my own sustainable, eco-friendly home.
- Have coffee with Paulo Coelho.
- Write a children’s book.
- Rescue an animal from a shelter.
- Become completely free of student loan debt.
- Sing the National Anthem at a Red Sox game!”
- “Take my parents to Vegas and watch them party like it’s 1971
- Take my daughter to Poland to see where her Dziadek grew up
- Adopt a dog from a rescue organization
- Go sky diving
- Live on a boat
- Build a kick a$$ tree fort
- Sew a quilt”
- “Spelunk great caves around the world
- Visit Iceland, throw something into an active volcano
- Own a Dodge Viper (I’d settle on a Shelby Mustang)
- Visit Newfoundland
- Live in a cabin in the woods next to a lake”
- “Go swimming with sea otters in Vancouver, BC”
- “Qualify and run in the Boston Marathon”
- “on my bucket list…to get Josh Martin to do the 2013 Childcan Polar Bear Dip in Kingsville 😉 Oh and beat the number one fundraising team while we’re there. ;)” (Note from Josh Martin: you’re on!)
- “Experience the beauty of the Aurora Borealis from northern Canada.”
- “eat a meal prepared by one of the Iron Chefs to see what all the fuss is about. Preference would be Mario Batali, Michael Symon or Geoffrey Zacharian – but really any one of them would do…especially if it was free
- Either that or be cool enough to be one of Chuck Hugh’s friends that he invites over for dinner on his show ‘Chucks Day Off’ – but I will settle for paying in one of his restaurants in Montreal
- Man I’m hungry all of a sudden…”
“I have just been thinking about this!
- I want to go to the desert (someplace dark and cloudless) to see the perseid meteor shower.
- Be a contestant on The Price Is Right (shallow, I know, but it looks like so much fun!)
- Build a straw bale house and live in it. (or at least participate in building it)
- Sell some artwork so I can make some more! (I’m running out of space.)”
- “Travel into space and see the Earth from a whole new perspective.”
Thanks to everybody who participated. Of course, the next step is to change your bucket list into a to-do list. So put on your awesome pants and get out there.
Share your own awesome experiences by visiting the Submissions Section (you’ll get a free ebook as a thank you for your submission). Or add your stories, photos and videos to the Badge of Awesome Facebook Page.
Add some awesomeness to your inbox. Subscribe for free to receive an email notification whenever a new article is posted.
Mom always told me that violence doesn’t solve anything. The Canmore Fight Club in Alberta, however, may beg to differ. For the past 3 years, Canmore Fight Club owner and Alberta Golden Gloves Champion (and this blogger’s baby brother), Nick Martin, has been hosting a Rumble in the Rockies as a fundraiser to fight cancer. The KO Cancer event raise thousands of dollars each year in support of cancer research and local hospitals. Continue reading
Ah, love. The heady surge of endorphins. The joy. The companionship. The matching tattoos. The disgustingly sweet pet names that make your friends want to punch you in the throat.
But of course, love and break-ups go hand-in-hand. The pain. The binge eating. The binge drinking. The sweatpants. The Sarah McLaughlin purchases on iTunes. The mopey “poor me” demeanour that makes your friends want to punch you in the throat. Continue reading
I grew up in rural Southwestern Ontario. So I’m no stranger to cow poop. But in all my years of smelling it, stepping in it and hurling it at my cousins, it never once crossed my mind to use it to raise money for charity. Continue reading
Picture this. You’re in a pitch black room. You strain your eyes in an attempt to see something–anything!–but it’s no use. Fear and adrenaline course through your veins and you just hope the enemy can’t hear the heart pounding in your chest. Continue reading
Is it a problem that so many of my memorable travel experiences involve alcohol? I’ve already told you about the gin I shared with a chief in Africa, and the shot of whiskey I had in the Yukon that contained a human toe. For this week’s Blue Marble Badge, we head to the jungles of Ecuador, where a wretched drink known as jungle beer awaits. Continue reading
What’s funnier than a pair of underwear landing on someone’s head? Nothing. If you’re looking for a unique way to entertain your little kids, consider the Fan Game: an underwear flingin’ good time. Continue reading
It may not be as hardcore as hiring a ship in the Louisiana bayou to catch your own dinner. But still, the shrimp pool restaurants in Taiwan are pretty awesome. I can’t remember the name of the one I went to, (and likely couldn’t spell it if I did remember) but you’ll find these unique dining halls throughout the country. Continue reading
By Josh Martin
Chiayi, Taiwan—My 90 cc scooter (which I fondly nicknamed, “Scoot Scoot Riot”) howled in protest as we made the steep ascent along the winding mountain roads in Taiwan. By noon Marty, Yanik (my two fellow ESL teachers) and I had reached our campsite for the weekend.
That evening, as the sun set over the mountains, and without an agenda to occupy our time, we strolled through the campgrounds. We passed a group of six Taiwanese men who invited us to join them for dinner and some Tsingtao Beer. Though strangers, in no time at all we were laughing and joking around the campfire like old friends (even if neither side spoke the other’s language well).
The parade of food was simple and delicious. They generously treated us to every type of local cuisine imaginable. At the end of the meal one of our new friends offered me a plate with a massive fish head on it, its beady eye staring up at me.
I have never been a fan of seafood to start with (especially the kind that can look you in the eye), so I politely declined. Upon doing so I was informed that to be offered a fish head was a show of great respect and friendship within Taiwanese culture.
The honour outweighed my distaste.
Reluctantly, I accepted and proceeded to eat the vile thing. To this day, however, I’m not entirely sure if it really was a gesture of friendship or if they just wanted to see if I would actually eat it.
Finally, when the food had all been eaten, the guitar came out and the singing began. In a country obsessed with Karaoke, our hosts showed no inhibitions. Before long, we were singing and dancing around the fire, the fish head sloshing around my belly full of cheap beer.
The simple, spontaneous, informal
Our mountaintop dance party taught me an important lesson in the value of simple gatherings. The simple, the spontaneous, the informal—these are the key ingredients to the best get-togethers. I’d much rather share a six-pack of cheap beer with friends around a campfire than attend a stuffy dinner party with hors d’oeuvres and fine china any day of the week.
Weddings are a good example. Tens of thousands of dollars are spent on these events. And so much work goes into the superficial elements of the gathering—the food, the décor, the ambiance—that the real reasons for celebrating are at risk of getting crushed into a corner.
When I think of the best weddings I’ve been to, I couldn’t tell you what the flowers were like, if the cake was any good or if I liked the bride’s dress. What I remember is laughing and dancing like an idiot with my friends.
Likewise, looking back at our mountaintop party, I don’t remember what I was wearing or if the food they served us was overcooked. I remember the good company and the experience of being guilted into eating a fish head.
In the end, experiences have a longer shelf life in our minds than material stuff.
For the full-length version of this story and more than fifty others, check out my book: Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in Balance from Life’s Absurd Moments.
I’m not quite sure where the cockles of my heart are located. But, after watching this video of Caine’s Arcade, I know they’re pretty damn toasty right about now. You may have already seen this bouncing around the ol’ social media channels. If you haven’t, you need to. Continue reading
Road trips rock. Road trips that end in deliciousness rock even harder. For a lot of people, summertime means great local food is in season. Whether it’s an established farmer’s market or a roadside stall selling homemade pies and sweet corn, local food tastes better, supports our farmers and helps connect us with the food we eat. Continue reading